Literacy-rich environment spotlight: Clark County Public Health Department

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin would like to acknowledge and thank all medical staff and public health officials for their tireless work over the past weeks related to COVID-19. We realize this is an unprecedented public health event and we acknowledge and applaud everything clinical staff, medical providers, managers, public health officials, nurses and administrators are doing to support our communities and keep families safe.

During these trying times, we want to share some lighthearted, positive content about different literacy-rich environments we’ve seen during our visits to clinics and other environments across the state. We hope to showcase how everyday places can be literacy-friendly and how these spaces can encourage talking, reading, singing and playing for parents and children of all ages. If your clinic would like to be featured, please email Alex Rogers and send photos.

Our first literacy-rich spotlight goes to the Clark County Public Health Department. Earlier this year, the Public Health Department revamped their Women Infants and Children (WIC)/Immunization waiting room. The updated waiting room includes many elements that are literacy-friendly, including the rug with both letters and numbers, interactive toys that do not rely on screens, and the plethora of books available on the book shelf. All these items can encourage families and kids to play together, read together, or talk with each other while they wait.

Women Infant and Children/Immunization waiting room at Clark County Public Health Department in Neillsville, WI.

Partners from across the community came together to make this possible. A local high school shop class built the book shelf, toy box, children’s table and bench set while other community volunteers painted the wall mural. This transformation showcases the power of collaboration.

Community collaboration is something Reach Out and Read Wisconsin strongly encourages and spends time talking about with clinics at our annual check-ins. Even though the Clark County Public Health Department is not participating in Reach Out and Read, we fully support their efforts to increase early-literacy awareness and encouragement within different spaces in the community. Clark County Public Health Director, Brittany Mews, RN, BSN, was instrumental in helping Marshfield Medical Center Neillsville Clinic start their Reach Out and Read program in 2014 and has continued to provide ongoing support for the clinic since. Clinics often create literacy-rich environments to amplify and expand on the anticipatory guidance their providers are giving at well-child visits. To us, it is wonderful to see other community organizations supporting this messaging and taking steps to create environments that foster and encourage literacy development, parent-child relationships and little moments of talking, reading, singing and playing.

For more information on how to create a literacy-rich environment within your clinic please refer to this Reach Out and Read handout or view our slideshow of literacy-rich examples from clinics in Wisconsin.  

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin receives 25,000 book donation

Friday, January 24, 2020, was a big day for the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. In partnership with City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, unveiled a Family Read, Play and Learn space at the Justice Center in Milwaukee.

The child literacy space in the family court waiting area at the Justice Center is the first of its kind in the nation created by Too Small to Fail. The literacy space is part of their larger program to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy, brain development and early learning. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ms. Clinton chatted with parents, read to several children and then participated in a community forum. Additional panel participants sharing their messages of the importance of early literacy promotion and power of collaboration were Dea Wright, Director of the City of Milwaukee Office of Early Childhood; Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Mayor; Maxine White, Chief Judge of Milwaukee County; Ramona Gonzales, President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

Spaces like the one at the Justice Center are designed to meet parents where they are and help them make the most of everyday moments that can have a big impact on their child’s development. Too Small to Fail has worked to create similar spaces at laundry mats, including one in Milwaukee and playgrounds across the country. The spaces provide a much-needed early learning environment, according to Ms. Clinton.

“A fundamental test for our country is whether or not we can make early learning available and real to all kids and families,” she said.

After the event at the Justice Center, Ms. Clinton and other representatives from Too Small to Fail visited Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Chavez Clinic. Chavez Clinic was one of the first clinics to launch a Reach Out and Read program in Wisconsin. In their more than 20 years of participation in the evidence-based, clinical intervention, more than 100,000 books have been given to children in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The now four participating Sixteenth Street Clinics serve more than 10,000 young children each year. Emilia Aranda, MD Director of Pediatrics for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin advisory council member, provided a tour of the pediatrics clinic for Ms. Clinton. Afterward, Ms. Clinton read to a group of children and took pictures with Chavez Clinic staff.

In celebration of their five years of collaboration with Reach Out and Read National Center to advance early literacy and promote early brain development, Too Small to Fail has donated 25,000 copies of the bilingual book DJ’s Busy Day to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

These books will be delivered to Reach Out and Read participating clinics throughout the state in the upcoming months. In the meantime, a special thank you goes out to Books4School for storing the books until they are delivered.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with Chelsea Clinton of Too Small to Fail
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team with Chelsea Clinton at the Chavez Clinic
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Clinic coordinators from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Chelsea Clinton
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic to young children
Ms. Clinton reads aloud at the Chavez Clinic

Airport Story Dispenser Helps a Love of Reading Take Flight – A Guest Post from Dane County Regional Airport

We admit it. Of the more than two million travelers we serve every year at the Dane County Regional Airport, children are our favorites. Their awe of the giant aircraft and wonder at soaring high into the sky remind us of all the things we love about flying.

Yet kids can also be fearful or fractious – posing a challenge to parents who are faced with a restless child. This is where the Short Story Dispenser comes in.

On their way down the concourse, families can now visit a sleek kiosk, press a button and order up a bite-sized morsel of free literary family entertainment. Travelers can choose from a 1-minute, 3-minute or children’s short story – from iconic fairy tales to contemporary writers who’ve submitted their stories online. The Short Story Dispenser prints each story on an eco-friendly scroll that requires no ink or cartridge, ready for reading. Near the kiosk are story books that kids and families of all ages can enjoy together as well.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s medial director, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, was on hand for the unveiling of the Short Story Dispenser in October 2019. Since installing the Dispenser we’ve noticed more parents and children reading a story together. Toddlers are lifted onto moms’ laps, tweens lean in to read over dads’ shoulders and whole families laugh aloud together. But the thing we love most is hearing a child’s voice pleading, “Can we read another one?”

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin medical director, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD attends the opening ceremony for Dane County Regional Airport’s Short Story Dispenser

Family Medicine Clinic Adopts a Program for the Books

This article originally appeared in the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants’ April 2019 newsletter and is reprinted with permission from the organization.

Clinically-practicing certified physician assistant Joanna Hebgen is doing her part to change the lives of children through a simple-yet-effective method: books. 

At the SSM Health Family Medicine Clinic in Oregon, Wisconsin, Hebgen implemented the Reach Out and Read program, which strives to incorporate books into the daily lives of children and encourages families to read aloud together. 

Staff members including Physician Assistant of SSM Health Oregon clinic at Wellness Expo showcasing their Reach Out and Read program
SSM Health Dean Medical Group Oregon staff at the Oregon Wellness Expo

The clinic has distributed more than 450 children’s books and created a literacy-friendly waiting area and exam rooms. By adding books and comfy, child-size chairs, children can relax and read before their appointments. 

During wellness visits, providers give each child a book they can take home. Upon presenting the book, providers can observe the child’s and parent’s reactions, which offers insight about the child’s development and the parent’s comfort with reading to the child.  It also paves the way for discussion about the importance of daily reading. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), benefits from reading can begin as early as infancy. Kids who are read to regularly have a stronger bond with their parents and learn valuable language and literacy skills. Reading also improves their social, vocabulary, and writing skills, and it can make kids kinder and more empathetic individuals as they grow.

“I love giving out books that I read as a child and also read to my children,” said Joanna Bisgrove, MD. “Parents and kids love the books. I find that the book is a good way to calm a child during an appointment and build rapport with both the children and parents.”

The clinic’s interprofessional staff all contributed to the program’s success, dedicating an estimated 40 hours to the project last year. Three staff members attended the annual Reach Out and Read conference to share experiences with others implementing the program. 

Additionally, the clinic participated in the Oregon Wellness Expo, a free event for families to visit local wellness vendors. Clinic volunteers distributed free books to kids and network within their community.

Due to the program’s overwhelming success, SSM Health plans to make the Reach Out and Read program available at their 25 family medicine and pediatrics clinics in Wisconsin; and funding for the books will be included in the annual budget.

“’Reach Out and Read makes appointments fun.” said Bisgrove.

This project was funded in-part by the NCCPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grant. Learn more about the Foundation’s grant programs here.

young boys read books aloud together

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s first legislative visit of 2019

On April 22, the ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics Neenah clinic hosted a legislative visit with State Representative Mike Rohrkaste. During the visit, Rep. Rohrkaste learned about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin and read aloud to a group of children from the Neenah and Menasha communities. The children’s excitement was evident as the representative read From Head to Toe while they acted out the actions described on each page. 

Wisconsin state representative Rohrkaste reads aloud at medical clinic
Rep. Rohrkaste reading aloud from Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis.
Wisconsin state representative Rohrkaste with children and families at ThedaCare clinic
Rep. Rohrkaste with children and parents after the reading
Rep Rohrkaste and Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff and partners including Appleton Public Library
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin community partners, including United Way Fox Cities and Appleton Public Library, were also in attendance

Following the reading, Dr. Eileen Jekot, the clinic’s Reach Out and Read medical champion, led Rep. Rohrkaste on a tour of the clinic. Dr. Jekot talked about the program’s positive impact on her patients and their families, and how it has changed the way she practices medicine for the better. Since 2016, the ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics Neenah clinic has given more than 7,300 books to children ages 6 months through 5 years.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is grateful for the opportunity to bring together legislators, the medical community and community organizations to promote, educate and engage around early literacy and children’s health.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin welcomes national medical director Perri Klass, MD

Reach Out and Read national medical director Perri Klass, MD, recently visited Madison, Wisconsin to give a presentation to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin supporters and stakeholders. During this talk at the Madison Central Library, Dr. Klass emphasized the importance of using books to promote healthy brain development in young children. One of the ways reading aloud supports brain development is through the parent-child relationship. “If we want to promote healthy child development in the early years, then we have to promote that parent-child relationship,” said Dr. Klass.

Books aid in the development of the parent-child relationship because they spark back-and-forth conversations. These conversational turns are what form connections in babies’ brains. Even young babies who are not themselves talking yet, show signs of engagement when these back-and-forth interactions are happening. Examples of this include, smiling at a book or the parent, looking at the pictures, reaching out to grab the book, trying to turn pages, cooing or babbling along with the story, or even trying to put the book in their mouth.

When parents read aloud they are not only helping foster brain development but development in all kinds of areas, like math, language, vocabulary, socio-emotional, school readiness and attachment.

Dr. Perri Klass presents at Madison Public Library about the importance of books and reading aloud for healthy child development
Dr. Perri Klass shares the importance of books and reading aloud to an audience of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin supporters and stakeholders.

Screen time

Dr. Klass also shared her thoughts about screen time and e-readers. She recommended physical books for newborns and children younger than age 2. Physical books allow babies to touch, feel, learn how to turn pages and put books in their mouths – all of which are appropriate developmental milestones for young children. Screens and enhanced e-books (stories that make sounds when tapped or have animations) can be distracting for young babies. New research shows that when e-readers are used, the number of conversational turns and back-and-forth interactions between parents and children decrease. Dr. Klass recently wrote about this new research in her weekly New York Times column.

When kids are older, using electronic reading devices can help them gain access to a wide range of information. However, it is still important for parents to provide supervision and make time for reading physical books aloud together.  

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin would like to thank Dr. Perri Klass for sharing her time and expertise. Also, thank you to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters and the Madison Public Library for co-presenting this event. To learn more about Reach Out and Read Wisconsin and how to support us our work, please visit our website.

Appleton Ready to Read: Outreach program brings early literacy to Hmong and Hispanic families

Appleton Ready to Read banner

Appleton Ready to Read (ARTR) is an outreach program for Hmong and Hispanic families with children ages birth to five. The program is based on the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, which provides strategies that caregivers can use to develop children’s early literacy skills.

ARTR was created as a result of the Leading Indicator for Excellence (LIFE) study conducted by  United Way of Fox Cities. In 2011, the LIFE study found that third grade reading scores had declined every year since 2006. Among those with declining reading scores, 36% were Asian (predominately Hmong) and 38% were English language learners (ELL) who were predominately Hispanic. Since library staff and community leaders knew literacy skills develop earlier than third grade, they decided to target Hmong and Hispanic families with children age birth to 5.  

A Hmong family outreach specialist, Pa Ja Yang, and a Hispanic family outreach specialist, Norma Oliveras, were hired to work closely with local families. Their positions were originally funded through a grant from United Way of Fox Cities but they are now funded through the City of Appleton. Pa Ja and Norma educate families on the importance of building early literacy skills through five practices: reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing. ARTR’s goal is to better prepare Hmong and Hispanic children for kindergarten and school success. There are three components to the program

1. Home Visit:

Specialists meet with families in their homes to provide free books and educational information on reading, writing, and children’s brain development.

2. Library Visit:

Specialists meet with families at the library to discuss library services, programs, and resources. Families receive a tour of the children’s section, music CDs and information on the benefits of singing and talking with their children.

3. Participation in Play & Learn:

Families attend a children’s program called Play & Learn. Specialists incorporate early literacy skills and the five practices to discuss the importance of dramatic and imaginary play, as well as narrative skills.  

Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist

Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist
Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The success of ARTR would not be possible without community partnerships, in-kind contributions from local businesses and continuous support from the city. Community partnerships include the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie Birth to Five Intervention, UW-Oshkosh Head Start, Fox Valley Literacy Council and a variety of other organizations. Contributions from Bouwer Family Foundation and Bob’s Discount Furniture have provided new literature, music CDs and coloring books for families. Since 2014, Pa Ja and Norma have served more than 230 Hmong and Hispanic families.

Play & Learn: Hispanic Edition is offered on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. at the Appleton Public Library and Play & Learn: Hmong Edition from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Visit the Appleton Public Library’s classes and events calendar for upcoming classes and updated information.

Looking for Hmong family resources near you? Check out some of these other websites:

Madison: http://hmongmadison.com/

La Crosse: www.ciasiabinc.org  

Milwaukee: http://www.hawamke.org/

Hmong National Development, Inc.: www.hndinc.org

Appleton public library ready to readAppleton Ready to Read programAppleton Public library ready to read program Appleton Ready to read

To our clinics, providers and families affected by last month’s storms, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is thinking of you

Dear Reach Out and Read Wisconsin family,
 
On behalf of the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team, I am sending thoughts to everyone in the state dealing with the aftermath of the unprecedented storms in August and September.
 
We have been thinking of you and your communities throughout the last month as we heard of torrential rains, floods, road washouts, mudslides, evacuations, sheer winds and tornadoes in multiple areas of the state. We know that several of our participating clinics were flooded, along with their entire towns. Superficial cleanup has been astounding, but real recovery will take time.
 
Perhaps, now, you have a few extra moments to let us know your situation and needs:

  • Were your clinics damaged?
  • Did you lose book inventory?
  • Do you have many families who lost homes, including all the books in their homes?
  • Will your usual book funding sources be diverted to emergency relief efforts?
  • How are the children in your community faring?
    • We know of at least one school system that delayed the start of school – acknowledging that the children were too traumatized by loss of homes and sense of normalcy to focus on academics.

Please remind your families that books not only build better brains, they build better bonds. Sharing stories, even without a book in hand, develops and reinforces strong, comforting, nurturing parent-child relationships. These relationships act as protective shields for children living through natural disaster.
 
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin functions on an extremely tight budget. However, what we lack in a financial cushion, we make up for in the strength of our collaborative network, interest in sharing your stories and unstoppable, creative, problem-solving energies.
 
Please tell us of your needs and/or send pictures if possible. We may be able to offer some assistance.
 
Here’s wishing for a month of clearer skies.
 
Karin Mahony and the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin team

graphic of books

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin Learning and Fundraising event

event invite for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin learning and fundraising event

Come learn about how early literacy builds a baby’s brain infrastructure, as well as economic implications for the well-being of our families, communities, and state.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin (ROR) advisory council members are hosting a friendraising and fundraising event. We want to increase awareness about how crucial early language exposure is to a child’s development and the link between high-quality, early intervention and future community economic health.

Join us and bring a friend or neighbor.

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD founding ROR medical director and Dennis Winters, MS, chief economist for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will give a short presentation and a Q&A session.

The event space is generously being donated by Mary Morgan at 702 Writer Incubator.

Please RSVP to Michele Erikson by Oct. 12.

Can’t make it to the event but want to learn more about our work and impact? Please contact Alex Rogers. To donate to ROR Wisconsin, please click here.

Celebrate National Child Health Day!

Join Reach Out and Read Wisconsin on Monday, Oct. 1

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin staff with message bubble signs

In 1928, Congress created Child Health Day, a national observance bringing attention to the “fundamental necessity” of children’s health programs.

In the spirit of the first National Child Health Day, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin is hosting a social media campaign to raise awareness for children’s health. You can show your support for kids by taking a photo and posting on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ForKidsHealth. The individual or organization with the most creative photo will win a $25 gift card! See contest rules at www.chawisconsin.org.

To receive a free #ForKidsHealth message bubble sign, please complete the online request form by Sept. 14. If you would like additional signs for your clinic or partners, please contact ljensen@chw.org.

Thank you for your support and partnership as we work to improve children’s health and literacy in Wisconsin. Please follow Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin on Facebook and Twitter.

We look forward to seeing your photos on Oct. 1!

For Kids Health message bubble